NOFX have never been keen on writing overtly personal lyrics; that is until they released their memoirs, The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories, earlier this year. It’s opened the door for the band’s latest record, First Ditch Effort and its slightly new take on an NOFX album. They’re still the same old NOFX; fast, loud riffs, chants, and raunchy lyrics but there’s a little extra ‘something’. Added to the mix are horns and keys; most notable in songs like ‘It Aint Lonely at the Bottom’ and ‘I’m So Sorry Tony,’ which you can perhaps credit to Fat Mike’s Home Street Home musical theatre project, set to run next year.
First Ditch Effort opens up with a barn burner titled ‘6 Years on Dope.’ Clocking in at a blistering 1:32 the opener kicks you in the balls with nostalgia, bringing in fans from new to old – everyone loves a good drug story. Speaking of good drug stories, ‘Sid and Nancy’ is full of conspiracy rich theories linking the Reagan administration to the death of Sid Vicious; it’s absurd but catchy as hell.
‘California Drought’ is a delightful listen with the guitar doing everything it can to say “Hey, look over here!” while Fat Mike’s vocals pull you in another direction. It allows each subsequent listen to feel somewhat different – then out of nowhere there’s horns in the bridge.
Slide over to a song titled ‘I Don’t Like Me Anymore’ where Mike lets loose on his public image, and maybe it’s a little much, but honestly in our modern TMZ world I’m positive that even Mother Teresa wouldn’t be safe. Speaking of which; ‘Generation Z,’ a track that features a vocal cameo from Fat Mike’s 11-year old daughter, looks at how society has failed everyone, pronouncing man and women as dead.
Another excellent lyrical entry features on ‘I’m So Sorry Tony’, an ode to Fat Mike and Tony Sly’s the friendship. It’s a heart-wrenching listen with superb female vocals.
First Ditch Effort is a must listen for any fan of melodic punk. Keeping true to their roots, NOFX show they’re still on top of their game; blasting through the thirteen songs without one moment coming across as forgettable.
First Ditch Effort releases on October 7th via Fat Wreck Chords